ALICE in the Mid-Willamette Valley

ALICE in the Mid-Willamette Valley
Men, women, young, and old make up our ALICE population.  As a matter of fact, ALICE closely mirrors our basic demographic make-up.  Surprisingly, 40% of our ALICE population is within their prime wage-earning years of 45 to 64 years old.  This can lead to increased financial risks as they exit their working years.  ALICE is working hard in jobs essential for our region’s economic success. We all know and depend on ALICE - child care workers, home health aides, and office assistants.

While ALICE isn’t in poverty, they aren’t thriving either. Often ALICE is one small crisis or unexpected setback away from sliding into poverty, or worse homelessness. The difference between making it, or not, each month can come down to simple things such as a car repair, a doctor’s visit, or other unexpected expense.

When ALICE households cannot make ends meet, they are forced to make difficult choices such as forgoing health care, quality child care, healthy food, or car insurance. These “savings” threaten their health, safety, and future – and they reduce productivity and raise insurance premiums and taxes for everyone.  The whole community is impacted as ALICE lives with these deficits.  When ALICE children are not prepared to enter Kindergarten, it impacts our school systems.  When ALICE cannot afford preventative healthcare, they are more likely to place future strain on our healthcare system. And the cycle continues. The costs are high for both ALICE families and the wider community.

The challenges faced by ALICE have been obscured, until now.

ALICE in the Mid-Willamette Valley

  • 41% of families in the Mid-Willamette Valley do not earn enough to consistently cover the basic living expenses highlighted by the ALICE Report.
  • 50% of homeowners and renters are “cost burdened”, spending more than 30% of income on housing.  In Marion County alone, 18,945 additional rental units are needed to meet the needs of renters below the ALICE threshold.  4,733 are needed in Polk County, and another 4,504 in Yamhill County.
  • Our region faces an economy dominated by lower-paying career options. 62% of jobs in Oregon pay less than $20 an hour. Most jobs pay between $10 and $15 per hour, and that economic condition is not projected to change in the foreseeable future.




What is United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley doing to help ALICE?
ALICE is a real and significant population; by ignoring ALICE, we risk the future well-being of all our communities.  United Way will continue to raise awareness about ALICE and continue the dialogue among community leaders about how, together, we can provide ALICE with opportunities to succeed.  United Way works to provide short, medium, and long term solutions for ALICE.

Our strategic priorities are to:

  • Improve early literacy, healthy attachment, and school readiness.
  • Improve third grade reading scores.
  • Improve high school graduation rates.
  • Increase the number of youth with the skills necessary to pursue post-secondary education or vocational training.
  • Increase the number of individuals/families who are financially stable, and improve financial literacy and budget management skills.
  • Provide skill development for youth and adults.

There is no "silver bullet” that will solve the challenges we face as a community. United Way's ALICE Report provides a community assessment that business, government, nonprofits, the faith-based community and residents can use to work together to improve conditions for ALICE and all residents in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties.  Find out more about our results.